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On the faith of the Gospel, as necessary
to reconcile our heart to the law.
MR. MARSHAL and those who teach the same doctrine are represented by Mr. Bellamy as " denying, "that the law of God was holy, just and good antece"dently to the gift of Christ; or that it must appear "such to every one whose eyes are opened to see it as "it is." Hence Mr. Bellamy calls his opponents "Antinomians of the devouter sort, who profess the
assurance of the love of God, and at the same time 66 appear the most avowed enemies of the law of God." He represents them as teaching, that if God were to deal with men according to the tenor of his law, he would "act the part of a tyrant; that it is proper for ❝ him, not for sinners, to repent; that he ought to lay aside his law as unreasonable, sinful, wicked and ❝ tyrannical*."
Heavier charges could not have been brought against the grossest heresy that ever infested the Christian church, than these which Mr. Bellamy brings against the doctrine of Mr. Marshal, Mr. Boston and Mr. Hervey. The passage in Mr. Marshal's treatise, which is principally insisted on as the ground of these charges, is the following. "Slavish fear," says he, "may ex❝tort some slavish, hypocritical performances from us, * such as that of Pharoah in letting the Israelites go,
Mr. Bellamy's Dial. p. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. Essay on the Nature and the Glory, &c. p. 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 34.
"sore against his will; but the duty of love cannot "be extorted and forced by fear, but it must be won "and sweetly allured by an apprehension of God's love " and goodness towards us; as that eminent, loving, "and beloved disciple testifieth, 1 John iv. 18, 19. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out "fear; because fear hath torment: he that feareth is "not made perfect in love. We love him, because he "first loved us. Observe here, that we cannot be be"forehand with God in loving him, before we appre"hend his love to us. That conscience, whereby we ❝ judge ourselves to be under the guilt of sin and the "wrath of God, is accounted an evil conscience in "scripture, though it perform its office truly; because "it is caused by the evil of sin, and will itself be a "s cause of our committing more sin, until it can judge "us to be justified from all sin and received into the "favour of God. This evil guilty conscience so dis"affecteth people towards God, that it cannot endure, "that they should think, or speak or hear of him or "his law; or that they should not rather strive to put "him out of their minds by fleshly pleasures and "worldly enjoyments."
By this doctrine, according to Mr. Bellamy, sinners are emboldened to express themselves before their Maker in the following blasphemous manner: "The Di"vine law is so intolerably cruel, that, unless it is en"tirely set aside as to us, we can never be pacified to❝ward our Creator. We proclaim in the sight of hea❝ven, our cause is so just, that we can never lay down "our arms, fall at the foot of our Sovereign and justiafy his law: nay, we can never have one good thought
of him; till he first set aside his law, remove his curse, "and grant us heaven upon our demand* "
The flagrant injustice of this charge against Mr. Marshal is manifest from the following considerations.
1. None can be more express than Mr. Marshal in asserting the unchangeable righteousness of the law. "The principal duties," says he, "of love to God above "all and to each other for his sake, whence all the other "duties flow, are so excellent, that I cannot imagine “ any more noble work for the holy angels in their glo"rious sphere. They are the chief works, for which "we were first framed in the image of God engraven CC upon man in his first creation, and for which that "beautiful image is renewed upon us in our new crea
tion and sanctification by Jesus Christ, and shall be "perfected in our glorification. They are works which depend not merely on the sovereignty of the will of "God to be commanded, or forbidden, or left indifferent, or changed, or abolished at his pleasure; as other works which belong either to the judicial or << ceremonial law, or to the means of salvation prescrib"ed by the gospel; but they are, in their own nature, "holy, just and good, Rom. vii. 12. and meet for us to "perform, because of our relation to our Creator and "fellow-creatures. So that they have an inseparable "dependance upon the holiness of the will of God, and "thereby an indespensable establishment. They are "duties which we are naturally obliged to by that rea❝son and understanding, which God gave to man at his "first creation, to discern what was just and meet for ❝him to do. And the law, that requires them, is cal« led the natural law and also the moral law; because « the manners of all men, Infidels as well as Christians,
Dialogue p. 12:
❝ought to be conformed to it, under the penalty of the "wrath of God for the violation of it. This is the true "morality, which God approveth, consisting in the con"formity of all our actions to the moral law. If those, "who contend for morality, understand no other than "this, I dare join with them in asserting, that the best "morally honest man is the greatest saint; and that ❝ morality is the principal part of true religion, and the "test of all the other parts; without which faith is "dead, and all religious performances are a vain shew ❝ and mere hypocrisy. For the faithful and true wit"ness hath testified concerning the two great moral "commandments of love to God and our neighbour, "that there is none other commandment greater than "these; and that on them hang all the law and the "prophets, Matth. xxii. 36-40. Mark xii. 31.*”
2. It is unjust to infer, that Mr. Marshal denies the obligation men are under, in point of duty, to have their heart reconciled to the holy and righteous law of God; because he teaches, that true reconciliation of heart to that law cannot be attained by men, in their present fallen state, without the faith of salvation by Jesus Christ. Mr. Marshal was far from admitting the Arminian position, that we are under no moral obligation to do what our present fallen state has rendered us unable to do. "They," says he, "who ac"count their impotence a sufficient plea to excuse "them or others, shew that they were never truly "humbled for that great wilful transgression of all "mankind in the loins of Adam. Inability to pay debt "excuseth not a debtor who hath lavished away his "estate. Our impotence consisteth not in a mere
See the Gospel mystery, &c. in the explication of the
❝ want of executive power, but in the want of a willing "mind to practice true holiness and righteousness. "This is their just condemnation, that they love dark❝ness rather than light. They deserve to be partakers "with the devils, as they partake with them in their "evil lusts; and their inability to do good will no
more excuse them, than it excuseth devils*." The truth is, a minister may as well be charged with denying the natural obligation of men to be reconciled to the law of God, for teaching that regeneration is necessary to their attainment of that end, as for teaching that the faith of the gospel is so.
3. When Mr. Marshal teaches that men cannot have a sincere love to the law according to its spirituality and vast extent, while they have no believing view of reconciliation with God through Christ; he evidently means, while they consider themselves as under the curse of God. To be under the curse is to be under a sentence of exclusion, not only from all true comfort, but also from any the least participation of sanctifying grace. And how is a person to love the law, while he considers it as excluding him from that grace without which he cannot love it? "When Adam," says Mr. Marshal," had once brought himself and all his poste"rity under the terrible sentence, Thou shalt surely die ; "all that knowledge of God or his law, which before "wrought for the continuance of life, was turned by that "cursing sentence the contrary way, to work for his "death, even for the death of his soul in sin, as well as "for the death of his body: and therefore it quickly "moved him to hide himself from God as his enemy.” If it be objected here, that Christ was under the curse of the law, and yet had no sin ; we answer, that we